The three cities surrounding San Francisco Bay aim to make the region the "Electric Vehicle Capital of the U.S." with a $1 billion investment in a new network of charging stations.
In the chicken-and-egg game played by clean vehicles and the infrastructure to support them, this amounts to a major boost for the chicken.
The $1 billion estimate comes from Better Place, a private company that, among other things, plans to "build mechanized battery swapping centers where robots will remove and replace the batteries in cars that are compatible with the system. These stations will allow electric car drivers to travel longer distances without recharging," according to the Associated Press.
The public-private partnership centers around a 9-point plan aiming to make the region friendly to electric cars by 2012, when the first vehicles are expected to be widely available on the market. The plan includes such things as easy permitting for new charging outlets at homes, businesses and public parking lots, incentives for employers to install charging stations and for governments and businesses to purchase fleets of electric vehicles.
Electricifying the U.S. transportation sector is generally seen as an essential part of combating global warming. While making electricity produces pollution -- particularly the roughly 50% of U.S. electricity generated by burning coal -- the prospect of controlling pollution at a few smokestacks is more feasible than controlling it on millions of tailpipes.
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